• Eimear Stassin

Day 4 ~ The Evocative Smell of Provocative

Today's writing prompt is to tell a story about a smell that means something to you.

The Evocative Smell of Provocative.

The smell of the coal fire catches in my in nostrils every time I walk past this house by the train station. Rushing along, intent on catching the next train, I slow to a stop. I inhale, deeply. The sooty, coaly, musky smell that's billowing out from this house.

I'm transported to another time; a different place; long ago. In my youth. Evoking very strong memories of my Grandfather.


His traditional house was heated by a turf fire originally. I used to love watching the smoke billow out the chimney up and up into the trees behind where the noisy crows nested. As I walked up the bohareen (the little path), winding its way up to his house. That turfy, earthy smell portraying warmth, heat and happiness within me. Knowing there was a fire inside to return to. The heart of the house by the hearth.

His house nestled in front of a hill, up the little track off the road called 'Com Gath' meaning the bend in the suns rays. In his younger days, we used to go with him up the hill to collect the turf. In his older days, we would take him to town on Pension Day and on for a wee drink to celebrate.

We might collect some fish from the travelling fish monger. Mackerel was his favourite. He would instruct me how to cook the mackerel. 'Just feck it around the pan'. Helpful guidelines like that! The smell of the fish cooking was mouth wateringly delicious. Strong, fresh and healthy. Straight from the waters of Dingle Bay, he'd comment. The promise of another delicious meal.

Every time I said goodbye leaving his home in Dingle, West Kerry, he would remark that he'd be gone the next time I visited. He would always say this with a glint of mischievousness in his eyes.

So much so that when his time came to leave for good, I felt the urge to double check, just in case. I half expected him to jump up and trick us all, from his final resting place!

He would shuffle around his house muttering phrases under his breath, as he topped up the turf or coal on the fire. His Long Johns protruding from his suit trousers, to keep him extra warm as he got older.

When he was about to tell a story, he would call me over, gesturing with his hand and saying 'Cogar' meaning 'whisper'. I knew this was the beginning of another story. A native Irish speaker with many a yarn to tell. I never quite knew if the whole story was really true or not. That was all the more fun! Of his provocative humour. Uniquely his.

Tomás Ó Criomhthain, The Blasket Islander put it so aptly;

'Ní bheidh ár léithéidí ann arís’: 'Our likes will never be seen again.'

Isn't it amazing how evocative and provocative a smell can be. A smell can transport us somewhere, anywhere, in an instant. Without having to actually go anywhere. A sensory adventure starting from where we are right now, that's uniquely ours to create, navigate and re-member.

Slowing us down to cherish those unique reflections.

When I'm training and coaching, I aim to provide a space where people can take time to re-connect with their senses, creating a sensory rich learning environment.

Every time I pass the house with the coal, by the train station, I smile and re-member. Over and over again.

#21DaysOfReflections ~ Day 4

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